The Hideout is a regular guy bar for irregular folks who just don’t fit in, or just don’t want to fit in. We didn’t choose the name; it has been called the Hideout since it opened (legally) in 1934.
The Hideout is a 100 year old balloon-frame house, built in two days, still here a century later. Hammers pounding in nails faster than the city could tear it down. Built by undocumented workers at the end of the 19th Century, run by undocumented bootleggers and gin runners, running numbers, racing horses, making deals, and moving in the make.
The Hideout is the place where the hard working man and the hard working hustler met for beer and eggs. Where the “26 girls” rolled the dice for dances and 10 cent drinks.
Born as a 19th Century Shanty, straight from the mud by ditch-digging Irishmen with dirty boots and hats, always hats, pushed aside by the nickel and dime Prohibition Era Sicilian button men. Cold War steel working Polish made way for the alternative, indie, free jazz, country, punk, post-rock of the 21st Century.
Haunted, holy, hallowed ground. Born of risk and haste, from a shack to a house, then a Public House. Hearty drinking, where everyone buys a round for everyone else. Family and friends, friends of friends, word of mouth, hand to mouth.
The Hideout, same name since they made the juice legal, no sign on the outside, inside, and insiders only. Once inside we’re as thick as thieves. A clandestine destination with a guaranteed good time.
The Hideout is the last hold-out of the rebel club. It is located in the center of the industrial corridor along the North Branch of the Chicago River. It is surrounded by factories, and the looming City of Chicago Fleet Management Facility. Every night for over a decade, punk rock, alt-country, indie rock, post-rock whatever, break out their instruments and play like it is the last night on earth.
City workers and grade school teachers, art students and plumbers, bikers and bike riders all converge at the corner of Ada and Wabansia Streets to dance and sing along to their favorite and obscure bands.
People know that the Hideout is different. It’s where Jack White threw up in the alley, due to a terrible flu, taped up a black and white bed sheet behind Meg’s drum set, put on some red polyester pants, and then flew onstage and played his pants off. It’s where Phantom Planet filmed their first low budget video for “California” which became the theme song for some cancelled TV “dramedy.” It’s where Robin Hitchcock got drunk on red wine and sang classic rock covers with local power trio kings Mr. Rudy Day. It’s where Joe McFee, Ken Vandermark, Areyellah Ra and their friends will blast out Free Jazz every Wednesday night. Where a big tough Chicago cop bursts through the back stage door so he can hear his idol, Thurston Moore, play improvised guitar solos in tribute to Sun Ra. Where Jon Langford performs with every band he has ever been in from the Mekons to the Waco Brothers. Where Sam Prekop listens to the Flashlights first Chicago show, where Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche, Jon Stirratt and Mikhail Jorgensen try out their experimental new material. Where Billy Corgan spends nine Mondays in a row creating a new band Zwan and invites everyone from Rick Nielsen to Neko Case to perform in between. It is the place where bands play their first shows ever. It is where they come back, in another band later. It is where they play in nine different bands in ten years. It is a community where every bartender, door person and sound tech is in a band. Where no one quits, they just go on tour.
The Hideout is the place where people have their benefits. We support every cause except Republicans or the War. It is where we all met up on September 11 and lit candles, read Oscar Wilde out loud, pushed all the tables and sat together and talked. It is where friends have gotten married, had baby parties, bas mitzvahs, and Christmas parties. It is where memorials and wakes have been held for our fallen comrades.
It is where every customer recommends bands. It is where plays are performed. Where Sally Timms (Mekons) directs a children’s holiday play about Pirates. Where Thomas Frank (What’s The Matter with Kansas?), and other writers have their book release parties. Where bands like the Flaming Lips and Wilco choose to have their CD listening parties. And everyone dresses up like robots, or sings Wilco karaoke.
Every Year the Hideout throws an Anniversary Block Party where anything can happen. “The King of Blue Grass” Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys play after Kim, the punk rock trio of Korean-American girls. The dB’s reunite after 17 years.
Steve Albini lights up a pack of Black Kat firecrackers, and throws the exploding bombs at the audience as Big Black reunites. David Yow rips off his shirt and gives himself an underwear wedgie as a re-united Scratch Acid rips and roars into its first live set in a decade. Bob Pollard and Guided by Voices pour through 29 songs and 48 Budweisers in 65 minutes. A young Andrew Bird experiments with reverb and sampling, An unknown Neko Case sings quietly. A couple of years later, she brings her friends The New Pornographers from Canada, who have to play with borrowed guitars because they can’t get their own equipment into the country 5 days after September 11, 2001. “The K-Settes” show up and try out some new unreleased material that becomes Yankee Hotel Foxtrot a year later. Legendary Sax man Fred Anderson closes out a Saturday night celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. 1000s of kids dance to Germany’s Mouse on Mars, once they figure out that a little black electric conversion box will turn on ten apple laptops. Texas political rabble-rouser Jim Hightower introduces Freakwater, 32 piece punk-rock marching band Mucca Pazza winds through the crowd, collapsing in the middle of the street until the little kids run up to see if they are OK, they are and they jump up and dance the bolo dance. Bobby Bare Jr. drops the country twang and rips into AC/DC; Cocorosie quiets 5000 people by whispering in French, Uzeda then blows them up with volcanic eruptions.
The Hideout is music, art, performance, plays, poetry, rock and rebellion.
The Hideout is not your Dad’s bar, but your Granddad’s bar. It is the bar that Granddad went to when he was young and crazy. He did his best to hide that past from your Dad, but you have found it. The old restless roots of hard-working, hard-playing creative artistic expression and intellectual freedom. More New Deal and less New Age. The Hideout is small, and small is beautiful. It’s not for everyone, but for every one!